RPGaDay: Gifting

Welcome to day 24 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon. Today’s question: What is the game you are most likely to give to others as a gift?

RPGaDay 2016

My instinct for giving a game as a gift, especially a rpg, is to fit the game to the person. You have a wide selection of games available. As of today, on RPGGeek, there are 7,488 different rpgs in 73 genres. Thus, finding a game which a friend would enjoy is possible. So you should know the person’s tastes in either books, tv shows, movies, toys, or video games. With such knowledge, you can purchase a good gift.

For my best friend, Christine, she is a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While she was playing a campaign, Brenda and I bought her a copy of the rpg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She enjoys the game and the subject matter.

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In the past, after playing a game which I only have a pdf copy, I gave my printed copy to another play. I’ve done this with Murderous Ghosts. The game is a great two player game of horror which plays under an hour. I’ve brought it at conventions of game events, played it someone and donated my copy to the other player with information where they can get their own pdf copy.

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A wonderful game which I wish was still in print so I can give to folks is Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple. A great whimsical game by Daniel Solis which you can only get in PDF now. There is a sequel game, Do: Fate of the Flying Temple , which uses the wonderful Fate Accelerated system, which is available in print and pdf. I love the first game for it’s quick play (1-2 hours for a story) and you get to write a story of your adventure as you play.

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What games would you give as a gift? How would you do it?

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RPGaDay: Tale of the cursed yellow die

Welcome to day 23 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon and today’s question: Share one of your best ‘Worst Luck’ stories.

RPGaDay 2016

Most rpgs uses luck in some form or another. It can be rolling dice, playing cards, or drawing stones from a bag. With luck, you get folks who have a variety of superstition. This story is about my friend, Steve Maguire, who has great videos as Science Isn’t Scary. I suggest you watch them and then come back here.

Steve had a yellow d20 which constantly rolled badly for him. It was notorious for not rolling above a 5 for him. He never learn his lesson and used the die in several games. While at an Ottawa convention playing some Living Greyhawk, he got so frustrated with his yellow die that he threw it at his feet and it bounce across the hall. Luckily, it didn’t hit anyone but it rolled for most of the hall before stopping. One of our friends, Christine, was managing the convention administrative booth near the spot where the die stopped rolling. She checked the result and it was a 1, which in D&D is a bad result to get.

After that, he retired the die. After several months, Steve played with someone who was short on dice. Steve gave his yellow die to them  and followed up on it. Apparently, the new owner felt the die rolled decently for the first year. Afterwards, the die went pack to its poor rolling tricks. It looks like that die was truly cursed.

What stories of bad luck have you witnessed? Have you seen items which are cursed?

RPGaDay: Recurring random events

It is day 22 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon, and the question is: What are some random events in your games that keep happening?

RPGaDay 2016
I can’t think of a random event which keeps occurring in my games. I enjoy tables of random stuff to get inspiration for games. I find them a useful tool when you have a block. From what I recall, I get different results when I repeatedly use a table.

One thing which I find important to use tables is to review the options. If there’s an element which you don’t want then you remove it. Personalize the table to fit your group and game. Once you have the table how you find acceptable then you roll and use whatever results the roll gives you. I use that approach because it practically eliminates fudging die rolls.

My philosophy in games is that dice are bad decision makers. If you roll the die and then fudge the roll then I question why you rolled the dice to begin with. If I want to roll the dice, I make sure than the group is fine with the various possible results. If we feel that a certain like a group of mobsters wouldn’t make sense to show up in the middle of the scene then we remove it from the table. This applies to effects like injuries, mental illnesses or even death.

How do you use random tables in your game? Any fun stories?

RPGaDay: Funny rulings

On day 21, we explore the funny side of rule interpretation for RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon. Today’s question: What was the funniest misinterpretation of a game rule in your group?

RPGaDay 2016

I had to think about it in order to figure out a situations. When you play in silly fun ways, you get into plenty of ridiculous situations. I remember a game for April Fools where the adventurers had to get a vial of liquid evil before their enemies did. You wonder what liquid evil, right? Well, in the plane of ice, it can get so cold that even concepts freeze. I postulated a great evil was defeated there and its evil was frozen. An entrepreneur mined it and brought it to a planar in liquid vial. Over the years, it was sold, stolen, etc. until it wound up in this dungeon. Consuming the liquid will turn you evil and Force Of Evil Spellcasters (FOES) wanted to get in order to put in a town’s water supply as a recruitment plan.

During the game, one player who character had the vial in their hand decided to throw it onto the monsters they were fighting, an orc and two giant rats. The vial broke and the liquid gave those 3 months immense evil power and thus making them the most powerful evil beings in the setting. They left to go plot evil schemes. We ended that one shot special April Fools adventurer there. A ridiculous idea but not truly a misinterpretation of the rules.

I’ll broaden the category to all types of games. When Brenda, Hany, and I were learning Arkham Horror, we misinterpreted an essential rule which made our initial experience quite different than intended. Arkham Horror is a board game where you take the role of investigator trying to stop terrible beings from being summoned. It is one of those rpg in a box games. It is a game that lies in the grey area between board game and rpg.

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The rule we misinterpreted is what a player does on their turn. We thought that on their turn, a player executes all the phases.  We though they would upkeep, move, have an encounter, and then draw a mythos card. Afterwards, the next player would repeat the same phases. The game went fast. We would finish a about an hour. It was highly challenging and we found it challenging to close all the gates to win before the Ancient One gets summoned. We still enjoyed the game. It is only after playing several games and we packed up that we reread the round order rules and realised that everyone does each phase around the same time.

What funny situations happened in your games?

RPGaDay: Challenge and rewards

Welcome to day 20 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon.

Today’s question: What is the most challenging but rewarding system you have learned?

RPGaDay 2016

I looked at my list of played games. One thing I notice is many of the games which I find rewarding are light on mechanics. That doesn’t mean they aren’t challenging to learn. Frequently, low rules can make it highly challenging to master. For example, the classic game of Go has the simple rule of place a stone on the cross-hairs of a grid with the goal of surrounding territory. Even with such a simple rule, you get a highly challenging strategy game.

I have a genre of rpgs which I found challenging and that is WWII games. I have Godlike, the WWII superhero rpg, and wanted to run a campaign for it. I’ve run a one-shot years ago but it didn’t satisfy me. I was scared. I want to give the time period its proper respect. It’s a terrible time where many human horrors occurred. I didn’t wish to play in a silly game as I tend to do. Godlike has a great mechanical system and can deal with the procedural action of gritty superheroes in a world at war. I felt the game didn’t give the tools to evoke the atmosphere I wanted. I required help.

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A few years ago, I got to play a campaign of Night Witches, a game by Jason Morningstar. The Night Witches are the 588th Night Bomber Regiment of the Soviet Air Forces during World War II. It’s the English translation of the German nickname, Nachthexen. The 588th regiment were all women and flew old Po-2 biplanes used as crop dusters and training aircraft. When the Night Witches did their missions, they would shut down their engine and glide at night and drop bombs or railway tracks. The Germans felt it was like witches flying on their wooden broomsticks.

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The game allows you to play as one of the women in the 588th regiment. You get play in cycles of day and night phases. During the day, you play out the drama, the social interaction within the base as you try to get sleep, repair your planes, and deal with team morale. During the night phases, you do your missions as you bomb the Germans for Mother Russia. Where the game shines is in the various roles you can choose.

Each role, named after a bird, help you tell a story. When I played, I was a Sparrow who got a very sad story where she lost many folks she loved until she sacrificed herself for her sisters. Her story was satisfying, sad, and heroic. Night Witches has moves and mechanics which helped me get the atmosphere of WWII. The game broke the barrier in my mind for WWII games.

Do you have a game or genre which you find challenging? How were you rewarded once you finally got it?

RPGaDay: New game education

It’s Friday and day 19 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon, today’s question is: What is the best way to learn a new game?

RPGaDay 2016

I have good success of taking the game with friends and just playing it. You get to experience the mechanics and the feel of the game. You also learn what parts of the game you struggle with and what questions you have. You can note those questions for future reference.

The group you play with can either be folks with some experience or not to the game. Those with experience usually teach the game to others. With my group, I usually read the game and thus my experience comes from that. It’s a theoretical experience as I’ve only read the rules rather than actually played it. I’ve gotten a mixed bag of rules which were interesting to read weren’t great to play or they were as amazing to play. I’ve also had the experience of confusing rules to read were equally bad or were amazing in play. Thus, reading the rules has no bearing on how interesting the game actually plays but it does help me prioritize games I wish to play. Right now, the top 5 unplayed games I wish to play after having read are: The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen; Lords of Gossamer & Shadow; Annalise; tremulus; Ars Magica 5th edition.

When you play the game, you get to see the mechanics in action and how the group gets rewarded for their decisions. You get to feel the flow of the game, personalized to your group. Everyone in the group will put their own life experiences into the game which is the beauty of games, especially rpgs. Playing with different groups will give different experiences. Games with powerful mechanics will drive the play experience while those with subdued or weak rules, the group will drive the game experience. It is a balancing act for games where each game designer decides on where they stand. I personally enjoy games which cooperate with the group.

When you play for the first time, you will make mistakes and forget the rules. I have enough game play experience that I usually make a ruling during play and note to check out the rule later if we ever play this game again. The only rules that I check are specific character abilities which might not be listed on the character sheet. The player get agency from those specific character traits and helps make decisions in the game. I don’t check situational rules as they are transient.

How do you play new games? Where do you do it?

 

RPGaDay: Innovation

Today’s RPGaDay question was a tough one: What innovation could RPG groups gain the most benefit from? I had to think about it.

RPGaDay 2016

RPGaDay in hosted by BrigadeCon this year.

I decided to go with something which Cam Banks mentioned several days ago in regards to rpgs and Monte Cook’s Invisible Sun. He spoke on how rpgs favour extroverts over introverts. Being an introvert, I agree with that. I love rpgs but most games don’t provide many tools to help an introvert.

In most rpgs, you have very little social interaction rules and encouraged to act it out like a normal conversation. For a shy person, that is a challenge. You might not have the know how to pull the social graces compared to an extrovert. Also, as there are usually no social initiative rules, you will tend to see the extrovert players take the lead or even dominate the interaction.

That is one part of rpgs which would be great to see. I’d like some innovation to help our the shy folks contribute equally to a game, especially in terms of the social interactions. From what I hear, Monte Cook’s Invisible Sun will try to tackle that part of rpgs. I’m curious on the details. I will wish to try the game at some point. I will keep on eye on it. The kickstarter is making its rounds on social media.

What would you like to see brought to games?